Friday, August 29, 2014

Sugar Artist Spotlight: Amber Adamson



Sugar Artist Spotlight #1: Amber Adamson


I was recently introduced to Amber’s work and I was blown clear away! It was one design in particular that has made me a lifelong fan….her ice cream cone cake! Three gravity defying, quirky little ice cream scoops with happy faces, cheerleading on a cake with fluffy sugar ruffles. She had me. And I had to know who the genius was behind this cake. And let me tell you….Amber is as sweet and lovely as her cakes.

Introducing……..Amber Adamson from Top Tier Cakes for All Occasions!

Location: Wenatchee, WA
Facebook name/URL: https://www.facebook.com/toptiercakesforalloccasions
Twitter: Ambie_80
Instagram: ambertoptieradamson



***So who is Amber Adamson?***

I am a very down to earth person, who likes to laugh at everything. I haven't been doing cakes long. I started my cake journey in 2011, and it's been a really wild ride. When I started cakes, there were no Facebook groups to pull ideas from, or to go to in order to relate with other decorators. There were no tutorials, only a small handful of You Tube clips to learn from. It was literally me fast forwarding and rewinding all the episodes of Amazing Wedding Cakes, Charm City Cakes, and Cake Boss to see how did they do that?! I figured it couldn't be too hard, and was much like ceramics, in high school. Boy was I wrong. I picked up most of my basic fondant skills from my friend Teri Waymire who baked cakes for her family and friends. I remember asking her if I could PLEEEEASE, watch her or possibly help her. She allowed me to come and learn, and from there I just fell in love. My beginner cakes were hideous, but for some reason my friends loved them and I remember being so excited for my first paid order for a flip flop cake I made. 

Since that point, I've been on a roller coaster ride of cakes, both good and bad. Seems like each time I make a cake, I've learned 14 ways how I could have done it differently. I go to bed that night and think about how I should have done it, or pick it apart and want to make it better, and more appealing. The bad part is, I'll never make 'that' cake again, because I don't repeat designs. Each cake is a new challenge, a new approach to a look or feeling someone wants to evoke in cake. My job is to crystallize what they want into an edible medium. Not always an easy task, but a challenge I welcome.



***When did you start decorating?*** 
I started decorating in 2010 for family and friends and 6 months after that a local newspaper saw a cake I made, which was a Canon camera replica, and a Shelby Cobra, and wanted to do an article on me and my friend, that had decided to do cakes with me. We weren't yet ready to publish an article, because little did we know, you can't just make cakes and sell them without being licensed. So we scrambled and got all our t's and i's dotted and crossed, and started making cakes officially for the public in February of 2011.

***Where did you learn the art of cake decorating? ***
TV, You Tube and my friend Teri Waymire

***Do you have a signature style?***
Clean, thin fondant, light, ethereal if possible, and fun.



***What inspires you?***
So many things! As hard as it is to not see another cake and think, wouldn't it be cool if..... and then change it up, I still do that. I'm working towards not doing that. Greeting cards, and children's books are a great inspiration. Etsy and paintings I see are another inspiration. And as often as I make my weekly trips to Hobby Lobby, I ALWAYS see something there and think....OH CAKE! YES! MUST MAKE! Antique stores always do it for me as well.

***What is your favorite medium or technique to work with?***
I LOVE a mix of modeling chocolate and fondant. I love when it heals itself and has no lines, and no mistakes. It also tastes great together!



***What is your favorite decorating tool?**
Favorite tool...oh boy. So many. Paint brushes, sewing ruler, because you can see through it and get a straight cut each time, scalpel, and razor blades.

***What decorating tool on your wishlist?***
A good turntable. After 3 years, I still have the Wilton turntable and have yet to invest in a new one. And a 12" bench scraper. 

***What is the best class or tutorial that you have taken (free or paid, in person or online)?***
HANDS DOWN AVALON'S MOLD TUTORIAL! Best ever! So many dollars saved. https://www.facebook.com/AvalonCakes/app_251458316228

***What is your best tip or trick?***
Don't be afraid to tear down something you worked on and remake it because it wasn't quite right. It will make you a better decorator in the end.

***Who is your “Cake Crush”?***
Cake crush.... I feel like I have so many it's hard to say just one. I adore Avalon’s painting skills ( Avalon Cakes) She is legit. Kara Andretta's ( Kara's Couture Cakes) airbrushing skills and sculpted cakes could make a grown woman cry. Lizzo's (Artisan Cake Company) bust that she made awhile back makes me want to quit decorating altogether. Ha! Anyone with a clean cake, and non cluttered decorating sends me to my sketch pad. And that's the truth of it.








 


*** What is your best advicefor a beginner?***
Be patient. It doesn't happen overnight. PRACTICE!!!! I'm still a beginner. I still have so many things I want to do and make. 

***What is your favorite cake/filling flavors?***
Here and now, is where I admit, that I do in fact hate cake. I do. I'm sorry. I'm awful and should be beaten. But I need steak in my life like no other. My favorite recipe is Artisan Cake Company's Vanilla/Chocolate cake. Beyond. (Artisan Cake Company)

***Tell me some other interesting, fun info about yourself.***
It's hard for me to sit still. I can't sit and watch TV, or do one thing at a time. I HAVE to do several things at once. It's just the way I'm wired. I'm sure I drive my husband nutty.
Amber was recently featured in Cake Master's Magazine for a technique using shortening and edible dusting powder, an alternative to using airbrush or royal icing when stenciling.
Click here for the free tutorial!  ----->
ACP - Amber's Creamy Powder Method:

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Thank you Amber! It was a pleasure getting to know you and I can’t wait to see your next masterpiece! ♥






Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Guest Contributor: The Business of Baking!

Once again please welcome our guest contributor:
Michelle Green from The Business of Baking!
~~~~~~~~~

Taking Deposits
by Michelle Green

The simple answer to this question is, “Yes! Of course you should!” I know that for beginning cake decorators, asking for money is really hard – let alone asking for money up front when the cake is weeks or even months away.

The reasons for taking a deposit are many, but as I see it there are two main purposes. The first is, it protects you as the cake maker.  Once the deposit has changed hands, it's effectively a contract. You know you've got that order to get done so you can plan for it. Clear your calendar, buy ingredients, start to work on that figurine or whatever it is you need to do. It also helps you to afford most if not all of whatever you might need to purchase in order to get the job done. If something goes awry and the customer cancels their order, at least you are not now left with a bunch of things which you had to pay for. Taking a deposit and securing a date it also really important if you limit the number of orders you take, because then you know what other work you can agree to or if you need to turn work away.

The second purpose to taking a deposit is to protect the consumer. Once they've paid the deposit, they know that you are contractually obligated to provide them with the agreed product. They can then move onto the next part of their event planning, knowing that the cake or cupcakes (or whatever it is you make) is secured.

Basically having a deposit paid is a guarantee to both parties – but I've heard of deposit situations going very, very wrong on both sides. Firstly, I've heard of clients cancelling orders and demanding their deposits back. In this case I usually say you should just be reasonable. If they've cancelled months and months before their event and you haven't done or spent anything on their order, and you are likely to fill their spot, I'd be inclined to refund it.  Your terms and conditions may have a time-based clause about this – so any cancellations 30 days or more before the event were refundable, 30 days or less before they event,  they were not. Again, the time you choose should be enough to give you the chance to re-book that spot with an order from someone else. You may choose to have a blanket “non refundable deposit” clause and plenty of people do, to avoid people shopping around.

I have unfortunately also heard of cake makers taking 'non refundable' deposits and then pulling out of making the order for any number of reasons (and some of them are truly bonkers reasons.) In my opinion, returning a deposit to a client is really unprofessional unless you are really and truly unable to complete the order or something catastrophic happens.  By taking the deposit you basically agreed to a contract to provide a product, and that client is relying on you to do so. Not only is pulling out effectively breaking the contract, but word is going to get around very quickly that you are unreliable. Unfortunately I had this exact experience when my Dad passed away suddenly. I was able to ask a friend to take over the orders for me, and she kindly also helped explain to my customers why she was taking over those orders for a few weeks because I simply was not able to do so.  I had an obligation to my clients and I met that obligation – I could not imagine simply walking away from those orders and leaving clients in the lurch (especially bridal clients, for whom finding a cake maker at short notice is not easy.)

To review, taking a deposit is an essential part of the business process, as it helps both the business owner and the consumer. All it takes is that one client who leaves you with a 3 tier cake and then magically decides they either didn't need it or don't remember they ordered it for you to learn that lesson the hard way.

Copyright 2014 Michelle Green The Business of Baking All rights reserved.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Michelle is a food writer, trained chef and pastry chef with a huge amount of knowledge and helpful insight into running a cake business. She is also the sole author of the blog, "The Business of Baking" -www.thebizofbaking.com.  "The Business of Baking" is specific to the baking and decorating industry and teaches you how to make a real living doing what you love. Michelle started cake decorating at sixteen years old and eventually turned her hobby into a business by becoming a pastry chef, then opening a custom cake business and owning it for ten years. These days, Michelle is an educator, consultant and author who mentors other decorators in business, proving that it's possible to run a business and maintain your sanity at the same time. In 2014 and 2015 Michelle will be teaching live classes all about running a sustainable business. More information on her courses can be found at  www.bizbakeontour.com.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Tip Share! My Secret Ingredient for FAB Choc Chip Cookies!

 TIP SHARE!


Shhhh, I have secret!
 Want to know my secret ingredient for 
over-the-top fabulously delicious chocolate chip cookies? 

Add 1 Tablespoon of instant espresso powder 
to your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe!!!

It doesn't give your cookies a coffee flavor...it just adds a little extra sumpthin' that you 
can quite put your finger on...an extra richness and decadence.... delish!

I use Medaglia D'Oro instant espresso powder that I purchase at my local Italian market. 
You can also find it at King Arthur Flour.

And another tip: don't be giving these to the kiddies...unless you want them on a caffeine high and bouncing off the walls at midnight. 
I'm sure you'll be happy to keep them all to yourself anyway.

Now, don't tell anyone...it's our little secret.

Happy Baking!




Saturday, August 16, 2014

Lego Emmet Cake!


Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache Filling

Fondant Finish and Decoration

(Stay tuned for a photo tutorial on how I made this cake!)







Happy Baking!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

SugarEd Productions Online Sugar Art School!

SugarEd Production's Online Sugar Art School is currently running a sale 
exclusively for fans of The Baking Sheet!
 

$3 for a 30 day full membership!!!!!!

WHAT A GREAT DEAL!!

Here's what you get for $3:
*30 days of full access to the online school
*High definition full length video tutorials
*Step by step photo tutorials
*Recipe and article bank
*Photo gallery
*Chat forums
*More every week!
*Celebrity Instructors!!


If anyone is interested click the link below!


These are some of the amazing instructors!
 
Lots of great projects and techniques!





Happy Baking!!

Guest Contributor: The Business of Baking

Once again please welcome our guest contributor:
Michelle Green from The Business of Baking!
~~~~~~~~~

The Top Five Mistakes New Cake Business Owners Make
by Michelle Green

Making mistakes is part of what makes life interesting – and it's only by learning from those mistakes that we become better people and better business owners. So much about small business ownership is about figuring things out as you go along, but a bit of foresight is always useful, which is why I'm sharing the five most common mistakes new cake business owners make.

1) Not realising you are in business – you know how it is, you make a cake for your child's birthday or a friend and suddenly everyone is telling you to go into business because your creation was brilliant. Then a friend calls and asks you to make a cake for her child, gives you some money for the trouble...and BOOM, you're in business. You didn't plan it, you didn't do anything special to make it happen - but make no mistake, as soon as money changed hands, you conducted a business transaction. It's easy to still think it's just a hobby, you're just messing around, you're a beginner...but the minute you got money for your creation (even if it didn't cover costs), you were acting as a business. Basically -conducting business is when goods and services are exchanged for one another or for money. Even if you sold that cake to your Mum, that puts you in business and that's just not the same as having a hobby. The rules are entirely different, and you need to think about things in a different way from then on – even if your cake was wobbly and even if the money was only a few dollars.

2) Not keeping track of expenses - When you're still in the hobby stage, you don't really think of all those cool cake toys as being 'expenses' and you definitely don't think of your ingredients as expenses either. As soon as you start accepting money for your creations you should start keeping track of what you're spending. It's just a good habit to get into, even if it's a long time before you'll ever make that money back. Some of those expenses might even be tax deductible, so it's well worth keeping track of the items you're buying. You might be a long way off feeling like it's a “real” business or even acting like it's one, but noting down expenses (even with an old school pen and paper tucked into your bag) is a good thing to start doing as it develops your business mindset.

3) Worrying too much about the competition - Without a doubt, you need to know who your competition is, what they charge and what their products are like. Knowing what you're up against is vital information because it helps you decide on the parameters of your own business, and helps you make decisions. However, if you're spending the time you've got obsessively stalking the competition online, posting cakes in forums waiting for your peers approval, complaining about other companies having more orders than you do, or talking negatively about other companies, that's a complete waste of your time. Spend that time marketing your business, developing new products, and talking to your customers or future customers. We don't like to say it, but you're in this to make money from selling cake, so selling is what you should be spending your time doing.

4) Waiting for customers to just magically appear - You've got the business cards, the shiny new baking pans, the website and the logo, but the orders aren't coming in.  The tumbleweeds blow past your door because there are no customers there to stop them. New business owners forget that it's not enough just to be great at what you do, you've got to go out there and bring people to you. Word of mouth is fabulous and will absolutely help bring in customers, but there is a point at which you can no longer rely on it to be your only marketing plan.

5) Discounting: When you first hang out your shingle of business, pricing can be a hard skill to master. You don't know all the financial ins-and-outs of your business yet, you don't feel you are 'professional' yet, you still lack the confidence to charge what you should be charging. That's okay – we all go through that - but what's not okay is immediately offering discounts to potential customers because they either question your pricing or do not immediately order. In those early days we so desperately want the sale we discount, offer extras, and do all sorts of crazy things just to get the order. The problem with starting out as a “discounter” is that word gets around – fast – that you'll discount. Sure, the customer will tell all their friends about your amazing cakes, but they will also say that you'll discount when pushed, and that your cakes are cheap, neither of which are things you want your business to be known for!

The cake business – or small business – can be an immensely fun and exciting but immensely challenging place to be and there are plenty of lessons to be learned. The biggest lesson of all is understanding that your baking business can't just be about the baking and creating – it's got to be about the business side of it too.

Copyright 2014 Michelle Green The Business of Baking All rights reserved.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Michelle is a food writer, trained chef and pastry chef with a huge amount of knowledge and helpful insight into running a cake business. She is also the sole author of the blog, "The Business of Baking" -www.thebizofbaking.com.  "The Business of Baking" is specific to the baking and decorating industry and teaches you how to make a real living doing what you love. Michelle started cake decorating at sixteen years old and eventually turned her hobby into a business by becoming a pastry chef, then opening a custom cake business and owning it for ten years. These days, Michelle is an educator, consultant and author who mentors other decorators in business, proving that it's possible to run a business and maintain your sanity at the same time. In 2014 and 2015 Michelle will be teaching live classes all about running a sustainable business. More information on her courses can be found at  www.bizbakeontour.com.

1st Day of School... How Many More Days???

**SWEET REPEAT**

School Bus Cookies!

Happy Baking!


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Guest Contributor: The Business of Baking

Once again please welcome our guest contributor:
Michelle Green from The Business of Baking!
~~~~~~~~~

How to Lose Weight and Still Eat Chocolate Every Day

by Michelle Green, The Business of Baking

Five years ago I decided to change the course of my life dramatically, and over the course of two years I lost 70 kilos (154 pounds). (That's like losing an entire supermodel holding a big handbag.) I've now kept that weight off (plus a bit more) for three years. It might surprise you to know that in all those years, I ate chocolate pretty much every single day and I still do.

Here's the interesting thing about losing weight. LOSING it is actually the really easy part. You're all excited about your shiny new gym card, you love your bright pink running shoes,you can't wait to program your Fitbit,you went and got the cutest pair of gym pants ever, and you've told everyone you know that you are “being good.” You've got a goal weight in mind, you've set up some mini goals along the way, you've got a reward scheme set up for each goal, and most of all you're motivated and excited and you are going to DO THIS THING! You are losing weight, getting fit, and things are looking pretty damn fabulous both emotionally and physically.

Fast forward three months. The weather has turned cold so you end up staying in bed and therefore missing your Zumba class. Your fancy water bottle broke when you dropped it and you haven't had the chance to replace it. It's Valentine's Day, Christmas, your birthday, Mother's Day...and you allowed yourself to indulge on the holiday (and then just kept on indulging). You've either hit the dreaded plateau, or the scale has started to move in the wrong direction entirely.

Fast forward three months. You managed to stop the food train before it raced to the bottom of the hill, you got back on track and replaced the water bottle, found a way to exercise on cold days (hooray for Zumba DVDs) and the scale is back to moving in the direction it's meant to. Before you know it, you've hit your goal weight!

You go out to dinner to celebrate.
(oh the irony.)

Fast forward three months. You've ticked off the mini goals and gotten the gold star for the big goal, the runners now look a little tatty and the plastic on the gym card has started to peel at the corners. You can't remember the last time you looked at the My Fitness Buddy app you used to track your weight loss on.

Fast forward three months. You're now heavier than when you started a year ago.

Wait. What? What does that scale say?! What the hell happened?!

What happened to all that excitement, motivation, enthusiasm, drive? What happened is that you forgot that your life continues for a long time after you've reached goal weight. It's about what you do AFTER you get to your goal that's much more important. You've still got to exercise and eat right and be involved with your body EVERY SINGLE DAY. Yes, of course, since you're not actively looking to lose more weight you can be a little more relaxed, drop the intensity down a little, allow a treat or two without beating yourself up about it..but there is no way you can get off that treadmill permanently and expect to maintain your new svelte figure. Even supermodels have to work at keeping those bodies looking the way they do.

If you haven't worked it out already, losing weight and owning a business are very similar life experiences. It's what happens AFTER all the fun stuff of setting up the business which is important. You get so excited in the beginning – designing logos, ordering business cards, signing up for wedding expos, searching out new packaging, buying lots of gorgeous vintage cake stands and telling everyone you know that you are starting a new business. It's such an incredible adrenaline rush, isn't it?

Fast forward three months. You haven't gotten quite as many orders as you had hoped, the ink on the business cards wasn't quite the right colour, a few of your cake stands got borrowed and never returned.

Fast forward three months, and three months more, and three months more. Your business (like the numbers on the scale) has gone up and down like a yoyo. Sure, there were a lot more ups than downs, you still love what you do, this whole thing is still awesome and you're still mostly motivated...but it doesn't seem to have an end point. The goal was to open the business (or open the shopfront), and you did that. Now what? Honestly, sometimes in business it can just feel like an endless slog of rent which needs to be paid, bills which need to be managed, and cakes which need to be baked, products which need to be created, marketing ideas which need to be put into action. Those things, for as long as you'll be in business, won't ever go away...much like holiday eating binges, cold winter mornings that keep you from the gym and sleeves of Oreos won't go away either (much to my disappointment.)

I've often said that going INTO business is the easy part, STAYING in business is the hard part. Those of you who have been at this for a while will know how true that is.

It's what happens AFTER you've reached the goal which is - in many ways - more important than the actual goal itself.

Know why you're in business – why you're in this for the long haul, long after the last cake crumbs have been eaten – is what's going to keep you going. Bringing a fancy water bottle along is optional.

Copyright 2014 Michelle Green The Business of Baking All rights reserved.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Michelle is a food writer, trained chef and pastry chef with a huge amount of knowledge and helpful insight into running a cake business. She is also the sole author of the blog, "The Business of Baking" -www.thebizofbaking.com.  "The Business of Baking" is specific to the baking and decorating industry and teaches you how to make a real living doing what you love. Michelle started cake decorating at sixteen years old and eventually turned her hobby into a business by becoming a pastry chef, then opening a custom cake business and owning it for ten years. These days, Michelle is an educator, consultant and author who mentors other decorators in business, proving that it's possible to run a business and maintain your sanity at the same time. In 2014 and 2015 Michelle will be teaching live classes all about running a sustainable business. More information on her courses can be found at  www.bizbakeontour.com.











Monday, July 28, 2014

Wonky Candy Communion Cake!

 A fun twist on a traditional Communion cake...
Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake with Oreo Buttercream Filling!




Happy Baking!

Minecraft Cupcakes Featured in a New Craft Book!

Check out this new craft projects book for all things Minecraft!
They featured my creeper and pig cupcakes!
So cool!

You can buy the book here:  Minecraft Project Book



Happy Baking!